XL Love by Sarah Varney

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Sarah Varney’s new book XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America’s Love Life courageously uncovers how weight is shaping–and sometimes shattering–the love life of Americans, from dating and mating to sex.  Listen to our interview here.

She writes, “Clearly, there are obese and overweight people who are happy and fulfilled and feel deeply connected in their relationships— emotionally and sexually. But for many teenagers and adults, young and old , obesity is altering intimacy: The sexual self is cooling; desires once thought driven by instinct are faltering; moments of pleasure are intruded upon.

Being squeamish or incredulous about these changes has consequences. It is my hope that the stories in this book— bravely shared and candidly told— engender a respectful but vigorous debate about obesity’s toll on human connectedness and the ways men and women can find a way back to each other.”

Distilled from interviews throughout the United States, XL Love weaves heart-wrenching personal stories with medical and behavioral research which I found intriguing.  I learned that some pediatricians are finding signs of puberty in girls as young as five years of age; that popular and attractive high school friends can broker romances for those less popular; and that it’s the numerical difference between spouses’ weights rather than the obesity itself that can brew resentment in overweight married couples.  I learned what SSBBW means.  I also discovered that beauty is usually not in the eye of the beholder. Fascinating.

Sarah Varney is a senior health policy correspondent with Kaiser Health News. Her stories air regularly on NPR News and the PBS News Hour and appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Politico Magazine, The Atlantic.com and KHN’s other print partners. She has reported extensively on health policy and health disparities within the public health sphere, and she has contributed to NPR’s “Living Large,” a series on how obesity is changing life in America.

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